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Squamous Cell Carcinoma in Cats: Symptoms & Treatment

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Squamous Cell Carcinoma in Cats: Symptoms & Treatment

What is Squamous Cell Carcinoma in Cats?

Also known as oral squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), squamous cell carcinoma in cats is a type of cancer that takes place in the mouths of felines. The two most common areas for this type of cancer to arise include the tongue as well as the jaw.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma | Innovet Pet

As cancer, the tumor that SCC causes has the potential to spread throughout the body, even though it begins as a contained cancerous tumor only in the mouth. So, a malignant oral tumor is one that can soon spread to other parts of your cat's body, which leads to something known as metastasis.

As a metastatic form of cancer, it has the potential to spread to the surrounding lymph nodes, which poses a dangerous threat to the overall well being of your cat. If the cancer moves from the mouth to the lymph nodes, it can travel throughout the body and create cancer in other organs, complicating the treatment process and making it hard to get your cat into a state of remission successfully.

Knowing that SCC can evolve from a contained oral tumor to a metastatic case of cancer is a very daunting fact to digest. So, let's step back for a moment and focus on what you can do to help identify a possible case of SCC in your cat.

The sooner the tumor is detected, the more effective the treatment will be because the cancer is tackled at an earlier stage. How about we explore the symptoms of oral SCC in cats!

Symptoms of Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC) in Cats 

The symptoms of feline cell carcinoma are important to know about, even when your cat is in tip-top shape. Simply being aware of the symptoms of feline oral squamous cell carcinoma can make such a big difference, should your cat ever fall ill with a tumor.

The most common symptoms of oral SCC in cats are… 

  • Drooling 
  • Weight loss
  • Trouble chewing
  • Hard time swallowing
  • Inability to eat
  • Disinterest in food
  • Difficulty drinking water
  • Noticeable lump in the mouth
  • Flinching
  • Sensitivity when being pet
  • Odd smelling breath
  • Random tooth loss
  • Unexplained blood in the mouth
  • Strange way of chewing

Weight loss is a major symptom of SCC in cats, both in felines that have undiagnosed oral SCC and in cats that are being treated for feline SCC. For undiagnosed cats, weight loss stems from the lack of appetite seen in cats with SCC. Then, for the cats that are receiving chemotherapy treatments and regular radiation therapy, it's just a result of the intense medication the cats are receiving.

How Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC) is Diagnosed 

Unfortunately, oral SCC is hard to detect in the earliest of stages. Since cases of feline SCC are not easily recognizable in the beginning, tumors are typically the most obvious sign.

To understand whether or not your cat has malignant tumors indicative of oral SCC, it's important that the vet orders a biopsy. By looking directly at the tumor and taking a sample to the laboratory, the vet will be able to determine whether or not the raised bump is a malignant tumor like those in cases of oral squamous cell carcinoma in cats.

Since oral SCC tends to be invisible until symptoms become incredibly concerning, it doesn't hurt to check your cat's mouth for a tumor routinely. Though you shouldn't let the possibility rule your mind or make you feel panicked, occasionally inspecting your cat's mouth for a tumor is a productive and proactive measure to take.

If you notice that your cat appears to be dealing with an oral tumor or some other symptom, you can bring it to the attention of your vet. From there, the vet and the other professionals who see your cat will be able to come up with the appropriate treatment plan for your pet with oral SCC.

Speaking of treatment options for SCC in cats, let's discuss the potential ways your cat's vet might go about treating your feline friend!

How to Treat Squamous Cell Carcinoma in Cats 

Since this is a type of cancer to spread to other parts of the body, it's important to notify veterinary medicine professionals that you believe your cat is ill. Even if a CT scan is performed and the vet discovers that your cat doesn't have feline oral SCC after all, it's better to be overly cautious than too laid back about your cat's health.

Once oral SCC is identified as the cause of your cat's symptoms, it then becomes time for vets to intervene with a specialized treatment plan specifically designed for your pet's circumstances. Since feline squamous cell carcinoma is a form of cancer, radiation therapy will likely be part of your cat's treatment plan, though it might bring some unfortunate side effects.

The radiation therapy options are likely to involve palliative radiation as a treatment plan of choice, especially if your pet's circumstances would benefit from it. As a radiation therapy option, palliative radiation is entirely focused on minimizing not only the spread of oral SCC but also the actual size of the feline oral squamous cell carcinoma tumor in your pet's mouth.

Though palliative radiation therapy treatment is not one of the treatment options that result in a cure, it does aim to make the cancerous tumor more manageable. For cats that are healthy enough to undergo chemotherapy, palliative treatment will be prescribed as an additional measure to treating feline SCC in your pet.

Veterinary medicine professionals can also decide to remove the tumor causing your cat's cancer surgically. The veterinary medicine decision to follow through with surgical removal of your cat's tumor is taken in more severe cases of feline oral SCC.

CBD Oil for Cats with Oral Squamous Cell Carcinoma

All cats respond to situations in their unique ways… But when it comes to feline SCC, there's one underlying commonality that all cats can relate to, which is the fact that oral SCC is very uncomfortable. Even though cats frequently hide away and cover up signs of pain as best as they can, cats with SCC are still experiencing serious levels of discomfort.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma | Innovet Pet

If your cat has oral SCC, we highly suggest introducing CBD oil as a botanical supplementary part of their lifestyle. Known for its pain-relieving abilities and its calming effects, cannabidiol oil is an all-natural way of minimizing discomfort levels for the sake of helping your cat maneuver through the process of oral SCC treatment as comfortably as possible.

From capsules that are easy to swallow and chewy snacks for cats to pet-friendly CBD oils and externally-applied hemp-derived creams, Innovet has a wide array of cannabidiol products that are safe for cats. Help your cat survive the intensity of feline squamous cell carcinoma treatments by adding CBD into the mix.


Approved by:
Dr. Sara Ochoa
Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, St. Georges University
Sara Redding Ochoa, DVM was raised in north Louisiana. She graduated from LA Tech in 2011 with a degree in animal science. She then moved to Grenada West Indies for veterinary school. She completed her clinical year at Louisiana State University and graduated in 2015 from St. George’s University. Since veterinary school she has been working at a small animal and exotic veterinary clinic in east Texas, where she has experience treating all species that walk in the hospital. In her free time, she likes to travel with her husband Greg, bake yummy desserts and spend time with her 4-legged fur kids, a dog Ruby, a cat Oliver James “OJ”, a rabbit BamBam and a tortoise MonkeyMan.


Thanks for stopping by!
P.S. We Love You!

The Innovet Team

Please do not ask for emergency or specific medical questions about your pets in the comments. Innovet Pet Products is unable to provide you with specific medical advice or counseling. A detailed physical exam, patient history, and an established veterinarian are required to provide specific medical advice. If you are worried that your pet requires emergency attention or if you have specific medical questions related to your pet’s current or chronic health conditions, please contact or visit your local/preferred veterinarian, an animal-specific poison control hotline, or your local emergency veterinary care center.

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